Category Archives: Training Stuff

Page Rank Ponderings

Dave Smith gave me the heads up that Google reshuffled the Page Rank deck for the second time this year. As I’ve said before, Page Rank Matters, even if it’s for purely superficial reasons.

Mary McKnight, of RSS Peices set off on a mission to improve the PR of several of her clients by starting PR5 Club:

“The club, which meets once a week for the 5 weeks following a PageRank Update focuses heavily on high level SEO strategies that WILL ensure that these bloggers hit a PR5 within the next two PageRank updates.”

With one reset down, they’re all in need of a strong finish. I don’t pretend to be an expert on improving PR, but I do like to watch.

Here are some observations concerning my blogs:

Blog Fiesta maintained it’s rank. I don’t even try to promote this blog. Frankly, I’m surprised it ranks as well as it does.

Brainious went from 0-2. I’m happy it made some progress, I’m just now getting around to focusing on this blog. Podcasts are coming in the next week!

Denver Modern is still a 4 & Lenderama is still a 5. They both made some progress though. Both sites are now displaying “Site Links” in limited circumstances. Dave is extremely jealous (see comments), so I guess that’s progress.

The Secret Diary of Greg Swann is still a 4. You might remember, Fake Greg Swann attained a PR4 in less than one month. That’s insanely fast. Much of the conjecture was that Google took a snapshot of FGS during all the commotion it stirred. Here’s the interesting thing though, the blog has been dead since the last reset. It’s still a 4.

So what does it all mean? I don’t know, but I’m happy to guess. I think Google’s trust in a domain name is more important for PR than all the little things that bloggers attempt in trying to boost it. I think lenderama, Blog Fiesta and Denver Modern are benefiting from the Google’s trust of mariah.com. Fake Gregg is getting the same traction from wordpress.com. I think there’s an opportunity here for new bloggers to jump start their PR. Here’s what I’d do if I was starting a real estate blog from scratch.

1. Start with a free WordPress.com blog. It think FGS has proven that Google trusts wordpress.com as a URL.

2. At the very same time, register your domain name for at least a few years.

3. Set up your domain name to forward to your WordPress blog. Go Daddy calls this Domain Forwarding. It’s like call forwarding. Now you can use the new domain name for your cards and stuff, but the blog’s true address is still yourblog.wordpress.com. For an example, try lenderama.com.

4. Blog your heart out. The great thing about this is that your total cost is just a few bucks for the domain name registration. Obviously, all the things you will want to do here are not covered in this post. Here’s a list to help you with that.

5. Once your PR hits 3 or 4, map your domain name to your blog. This is a guess on my part, but I think you’ll maintain your PR. I did something similar for Loan Bark before I sold it, and the PR was maintained. Domain Mapping only costs ten bucks a year.

6. After everything is all up and running, you could then consider leaving WordPress.com for more flexibility.

Will it work? I don’t know. Mary ensured her methods would work. So if your looking for guaranties, PR5 Club might be a better bet.

Why I never read Seth Godin.

I’ll offer no argument to impute the genius of Seth Godin. But I make it a point to steer clear of his blog. Why? Because it seems like everyone I know in blogopolis reads it. What’s worse, they take his comments as gospel. Seth could be right of everything he says. But when everyone follows lockstep, then everyone does pretty much the same thing.

My other problem with reading Seth is that he’s just one guy. No offense, to him, but there are a tremendous number of professionals, in and out of the real estate industry that come up with ideas every bit as good (and better implemented).

There’s no word of god when it comes to marketing on the net. That’s why this blog features as much advice from my peers, as it does from me.

Take this recent post from Seth’s blog for example. I don’t subscribe, but many of the RE bloggers I respect must. Greg Swann, Dustin Luther, Mariana Wagner, Jeff Brown, and Joel Burslem all mention the post. Jeff even went so far as to call the post an endorsement of what he was talking about months ago.

I think you’re wrong Jeff. I think it’s an illustration of how no one human can be counted on to be the last word on anything. I don’t need Seth’s endorsement (months later) to know you were correct at the time. Oh, and the idea to blog about high school sports? I came up with that idea about a year ago (see comments). Someone else could have easily come up with it before me.

Seth’s advice in that post is sooo 2007. It’s good advice, but I’d hate to be the one who’s just now getting it because they paid too much attention to one guru, and not enough to the professionals around them who were already making this work.

To me, “Being Remarkable” can’t happen if you spend the bulk of your time taking advice from others, or giving too much weight to one superstar’s ideas. For me, blogging has always been about taking what works for me off line, and figuring out ways to harness that success more effectively on the web. Sure, it’s great to listen to others, but look to yourself as well. Original ideas have only one origin.

The social value of blog comments.

Wade published a great post on the SEO value of commenting on other blogs. His advice is spot on if your primary goal is improving your relevance in Google. I offer “Do Follow” links on my blogs for the express purpose of encouraging people like Wade to contribute to the conversation.

I’m a prolific commenter myself. I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of comments I’ve left on other blogs in the last three years number well into the thousands. I’ve always taken the time to leave an appropriate link back, but it was never for the benefit of Google. I believe in the social value of commenting.

It’s so very hard as a blogger, to know if your ideas are resonating. Comments, any comments are welcome feedback. When I decided to post on other people’s blogs, it’s because I wanted them to know I was listening. I wanted to engage them in conversation. I wanted to forge a relationship with them.

During my stint as Fake Greg Swann, I wrote about how I love to argue. I try to keep that in check while commenting on other people’s blogs, but it doesn’t always work out. Sometimes, my strong opinions lead to a comment of mine being deleted for no other reason than the blog author disagrees with it. That’s unfortunate, because, like I said, the whole idea was to forge a relationship in the first place.

On the other hand, comments are a two way street. It’s ridiculous to me to solicit comments, and only  publish the ones who agree with your point. When one of my comments is deleted, I think, “who else is being silenced?” I also question if this is a blog worth commenting on. Who wants to spend the time to comment if nothing was ever to come from it? This happened to me today, on a pretty big RE.net blog. I doubt I’ll spend as much time there.

If anything can be taken from this, I would just say that comments are the 2.0 in Web 2.0. It’s important to treat comments like they are a face to face conversation. Don’t try get over on anyone, or BS them, or silence them, and you’ll be good to go.

What Kristal Kraft, Teresa Boardman & Hugh Hefner taught me about blogging.

Can you imagine Playboy magazine without pictures? The same would apply to National Geographic, or a more relevant choice like Metropolitan Home, but where’s the fun in associating Kristal and Teresa with them? 😛

People like pictures. I think this point is lost on many RE bloggers. Some are even of the opinion that pictures are somehow a less worthy substitute for substantive discourse. Curbed is often labeled by other RE bloggers as “real estate porn”. In reading that, my thought was, “I don’t subscribe to Islands Magazine for the articles”. Pictures are a good thing.

Median home value charts and monthly sales trends all have their place, especially to the long tail visitor who finds your site through Google. But blogs aren’t just a SEO vehicle for capturing leads. A regular readership should be the goal for any blog. For a local real estate blogger, a reference from a local reader is far more powerful than anything Google has to say. Being remarkable is the key to attracting regular readers. I knew from a review of my own ability as a word smith that I wasn’t a remarkable writer. I’d need to do something else to attract regular readers to my local real estate blog.

While revamping Den-Mod, I looked at home & garden focused magazines and web sites. Pictures dominate the pages. I also reviewed what successful local bloggers like Kristal Kraft and Teresa Boardman were doing. Pictures, pictures, pictures. Sure, their blogs are full of relevant news, charts, and opinions, but the photography plays a central role. Kristal even admits to photography being a crutch for writer’s block.

My conclusion was that people must like real estate porn. One only needs to look at successful real estate smut peddlers like Kristal and Teresa to realize it. Last Fall, I took about 2000 pictures of modern structures in Denver. Whenever I don’t have a new listing or subject to post about, I publish a new gallery. The next time you’re at a loss for words, or just want to add some eye candy for your readers, make like Hugh and take some pretty pictures.